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Facebook Messenger Adds Group Video Chat

Continuing to take (steal?) inspiration from rival apps, Facebook is adding a split-screen group video chat feature to Messenger.

Up to six friends can join a conversation while, of course, wearing Snapchat-like selfie masks. Also, up to 50 people can listen in, talk via voice, send texts and other media like GIFs and emojis.

“Chatting face-to-face live as a group is perfect for those spontaneous moments when text just isn’t enough… or when you have a major case of FOMO,” Stephane Taine, a product manager at Messenger, notes in a new blog post.

Among the roughly 245 million people making video calls in Messenger every month, group video chat is the most requested feature of all time, according to Taine.

That’s no surprise considering the popularity of group video chat on rival apps like Houseparty. Having just raised another $50 million, Houseparty is establishing itself as a credible threat to Facebook Messenger.     

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More broadly, the new feature is just the latest attempt by Facebook to steal some of Snapchat’s popularity among younger users.

Just last week, Facebook unveiled a new camera feature in Messenger -- complete with “art” and special effects for users to spice up their pictures.

Earlier this month, the social giant began giving select users the power to make photo frames for profile pictures. Featured on a new Camera Effects Web site, the service currently requires that frames be approved by Facebook.

In October, meanwhile, Facebook unveiled “masks,” which look very much like Snapchat’s animated lenses.

And, Facebook’s filtering ambitions don’t stop there. It recently partnered with Prisma, the Russian app that lets users “filter” social media in the style of artistic schools like Expressionism and Cubism.

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